Early Childhood Education/Early Years

Debra Laxton and Marilyn Leask with inputs from the MESH Early Years Editorial Board | View as single page | Feedback/Impact
Early Childhood Education/Early Years
Effective learning
Activities and Types of Play
Case Studies

How to use this guide

If you are new to Early Years Education ideas then skimming the headings in the Guide will give you an overview of existing practices (http://meshguides.org/guides/node/1343). Just dip into those relevant to you.

If you are working with children 0-7 years over a long period then you should find plenty of ideas in the guide to stimulate their development.

This guide is designed with several readers in mind.

  1. Teachers/students: The full MESHGuide on the website provides in-depth knowledge and references for wider reading.  This should provide a sound base for practice and decisions by leaders or early years practitioners/teachers and for volunteer training. This version will be periodically updated and extended. It is on the web at http://meshguides.org/guides/node/1343. References are provided for those who want to read more deeply.

  2. Families: Under RESOURCES, there is a ‘Summary for Family Use’. This is a specific briefing for parents and carers in crisis situations and it is designed to be adapted to the local environment, local customs, languages, songs, rhymes, resources and cultures.

  3. Trainers: Under RESOURCES, there is also a Summary for Trainers. This is designed for use in training people new to early years education who are working with families in crisis situations.

  4. Further development: Case Studies: Section 5: local Case Studies. We see there is potential to develop a mobile phone version for use by volunteers and parents/carers via the USTAD phone to phone file sharing Ap. This could be available in local languages and could include  ‘Talking Heads’ for parents and carers for summarised and localised versions of the materials here. Songs, rhymes and games could be recorded in the local language and added to complement the text.

The Guide has the following structure:

Column 1 references evidence and documents underpinning the Guide.

Column 2 gives background Information about the areas of development which are considered important in early childhood education. Most activities impact on a numbers of areas of development with all activities providing the opportunity to develop language. Effective teaching is planned with clear purposes in mind (aims) which are included in the headings in this Column 2.

Column 3 lists activities which contribute in different ways to child development. Sections 3.2 and 3.3 show typical plans for an hour’s session.  In any activity it is usually possible to cover several ‘aims’ e.g. in many games, you may be developing language, listening and social skills along with gross or fine motor skills (coordination and muscle development).

If you are working with children over time, we recommend that you do what experienced teachers do, and plan and write down what you want to achieve on a daily or weekly basis to make a balanced ‘curriculum’ or set of experiences in order to develop the whole child. For example, in a one hour session for a group of children who come together once a week, you might structure every session to provide a varied programme which reinforces their learning. A sequence of activities might be:

⁃ have a welcome and goodbye song with actions which are the same every week, introducing a notion of fun and success and teaching social skills of greeting and saying goodbye.

⁃ choose lively activities/songs to develop physical coordination, understanding of how things are done in the community eg personal hygiene and behaviour towards others;  counting, sharing, language and concepts e.g. forwards/backwards, side to side, up/down, or to develop balance and so on

⁃ intersperse lively activities with quieter activities eg to develop listening skills, counting skills, physical control.

⁃ consistently use the same actions or set of words to develop self control eg stop/listen what can we hear?

⁃ introduce a new rhyme/song every few weeks with plenty of repetition of songs and rhymes covered earlier for fun as well as to extend the child’s memory and reinforce skill development.

Column 4 Lists resources of different types including the Family and Trainers’ Summaries as above with translations as appropriate,

Column 5 Provides case studies giving examples of practices in different settings.